Hometown Heroes Loan Program: Learn How to Get up to a $25,000 Grant in Baker County, Florida
Home prices in Florida are fast rising, as are borrowing rates, due to increased demand. Many Floridians, particularly those who work in sectors that directly benefit our state's inhabitants, have difficulty saving for closing costs and down payments to buy their first homes.
Florida Housing has introduced the 2022 Hometown Heroes program throughout the state, including Baker County. In honor of the National Homeownership celebrations this June, eligible Floridians can now seek cheaper mortgages and other support through this initiative.
What is the Florida Hometown Heroes loan program all about?
The Florida Hometown Heroes Scheme intends to make homeownership more accessible to those who work at the community's front lines. The program is open to workers across more than 50 professions looking for assistance buying their first homes.
Frontline employees who qualify for one of the following FL Housing first mortgage alternatives are eligible for closing expenses and down payment assistance under the program:
The Florida First for TBA government - All government-sponsored mortgage programs, such as the VA, FHA, and USDA-RD, fall under this category. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is available to eligible applicants.
The HFA Preferred Heroes for TBA - This is a standard Fannie Mae Offering mortgage program that offers qualified applicants a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This mortgage scheme also offers cheaper Private Mortgage Insurance costs for borrowers with less than 80% AMI. On the other hand, borrowers with AMI greater than 80% are subject to standard PMI.
- The HFA Advantage Heroes for TBA - This loan option is from Freddie Mac and is a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with cheaper private mortgage insurance for AMI below 80%.
Eligible loan applicants receive a zero-interest, non-amortizing, 30-year deferred second mortgage worth up to 5 percent of the first mortgage (maximum $25,000) towards the down payment and closing costs.
Who is the Hometown Heroes mortgage program for?
The Florida housing program for hometown heroes is open to educators, law enforcement officials, healthcare workers, firefighters, childcare workers, veterans, and active military people.
When announcing the program, governor Ron DeSantis said the state values the contributions of its teachers, police, firefighters, and nurses at the same time. He called these hometown heroes the backbone of the community and that helping them afford homes in the areas they serve is one way of honoring them and contributing to the success of the American Dream.
Who is in charge of the program in Baker County?
The program is overseen by the Florida Housing and Finance Corporation, sometimes known as Florida Housing. This agency was founded by the legislature 40 years ago. It is the housing finance agency of the local government, and it oversees federal and state resources to help Floridians achieve budget-friendly rental housing and personal homes.
The Florida legislature allocated $100 million to the agency to establish and run the hometown heroes loan program. This program will provide cheaper first mortgage options and closing costs, and downpayment assistance to frontline workers in over fifty different occupations, allowing them to acquire a residence in the cities they serve.
When will the program start?
Funds from the Florida Hometown Heroes project will be available to borrow starting June 1st, which coincides with the National Homeownership Month. The significance of home ownership to families across the United States is celebrated during this month.
What are the qualification criteria for the hometown heroes loan program?
Potential first-time homebuyers must meet some requirements and connect with participating loan officers. These requirements include:
Certification in one of the eligible fields
Full-time professionals in the following fields and whose family income falls below 150 percent of the county's or state's median income will be eligible for the loan program:
- Health care practitioners
- Medical emergency technicians
- 911 operators
- Law enforcement professionals
- Certified correctional officers
- Probation officers
- Education administrators
Check out the complete list of eligible professionals. Except for military veterans, all applicants must be employed full-time and in a capacity that needs their certification. Also, applicants must not have owned or held title to a home for at least the past three years. Only 1003 or credit-qualifying income is used in the calculations.
Meet the county's income threshold
The home financing program for hometown heroes includes income caps. Only applicants with salaries below 150 % of the county's median income are considered. For Baker County, Florida, this number is $118,950.00.
Only 1003 or credit-qualifying income is considered in this mortgage program. The income of the household is not taken into account.
At least 640 FICO score
A FICO rating of at least 640 is required for all applicants. The back-end debt-to-equity ratio for people with FICO scores in the 640-679 range must be less than 45 percent. People with scores above 680 may qualify with back-end DTI of up to 50 percent, depending on what Automated Underwriting allows.
Provide supporting documentation
Additionally, the following documentation will be required from applicants to prove occupational eligibility:
- A copy of your Florida occupation license or certification
- VOE duplicate
- Three years of Federal Tax Returns
- Pay stubs proving a two-year history of continuous employment (not necessarily with the same company)
- Filled-out hometown heroes loan program application form
- Non-citizens must provide documentation to support their citizenship. They must also adhere to specific loan agency (FHA, RD, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac) guidelines.
Active service members must also submit Form 1003 and a photocopy of their military ID. Military Certificates of Eligibility are not required. However, service members, too, are required to be first-time homeowners, or else they will be rejected.
On the other hand, veterans don't have to be first-time homebuyers, provided they have a valid DD-214 with a non-dischargeable discharge status. Military Certificates of Eligibility are not required.
Only a surviving wife or husband with a valid Certificate of Eligibility is eligible for a VA first loan.
Attend Homebuyer Education (HBE)
Before purchasing their home, those who qualify must take a homebuyer education course recognized by the program, either in person or online. The course must satisfy the National Industry or Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards for homeowner education and counseling. Education after the closing is entirely unacceptable.
Education provided by a mortgage insurance company is acceptable if it meets National Industry or Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards for homeowner education and counseling.
Certificates of completion remain valid up to two years following the issued date.
What assistance is provided if you qualify?
The hometown heroes initiative was established to assist frontline workers in obtaining housing in the communities in which they work. Those who qualify may obtain lower-than-market interest rates on their first mortgage from the FHA, VA, USDA-RD, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae.
Eligible loan applicants will also receive a zero-interest, non-amortizing, 30-year deferred second mortgage worth up to 5 % of the first mortgage (maximum $25,000) towards the down payment and closing costs. This second mortgage becomes entirely due if one refinances the first mortgage, rents out or even sells the home, and transfers the deed.
Additional benefits include lower upfront expenses, no origination points, or discount points.
What types of residences can you buy with this program?
You can acquire new or refurbished homes, single or multi-family homes, subsidized condos, townhouses, villas, and manufactured homes with the help of the hometown heroes program. However, you'll need a FICO score above 680 to buy a manufactured home.
Baker County is made up of three cities and several unincorporated areas. The loan program is offered in all Baker County municipalities, allowing residents to purchase a home in the community they serve. The typical listing property price in the county as of April 2022 was $306K, up 17.5 percent from the previous year. The median selling price was $293.5K.
The most affordable city in the county is Sanderson, with a median listing price of $160K. It's characterized by a low crime rate, and excellent elementary schools, including:
- Westside Elementary School (Grade 1-3)
- J Franklyn Keller Intermediate School (Grade 4-5)
- Richardson Middle School (Grade 6)
- Baker County Middle School (Grade 5-8)
Glenn St. Mary is the second most affordable city, with a median listing price of $237.5K. It's the best city if you are looking for new homes. The best neighborhoods here include:
- Middleburg - the median listing price is $375K
- Oakleaf Plantation - the median listing price is $388.5K
- Chimney Lakes - the median listing price is $345.K
- 32221 - the median listing price is $309.9K
Homes in MacClenny city have the highest median listing price at $299K. This city hosts 13 public and 2 private schools rated good and higher by GreatSchools. These include Macclenny Elementary School, Baker County Middle School, and Baker Virtual Instruction Program. The best neighborhoods in the city include:
- Jacksonville (median listing price $299.9K) - affordable townhomes, condos, and apartments
- Callahan (median listing price $334K) - affordable homes, above-average elementary schools
- 32068 (median listing price $370K) - low crime rates
- Middleburg (median listing price $375K) - above-average elementary schools
Baker residents believe the southwest section of the county to be the safest, while the odds of falling victim to a crime in the northeast areas are as high as 1 in 36.
Are there home price limits with this loan program?
The hometown heroes loan program has home price limits. For FHA & USDA-RD, the negotiated purchase price must not exceed $420,680.00. For HFA Preferred, HFA Advantage, and VA, the home price limit is $647,200.00.
Here's the summary of the home price and income limits for the hometown heroes loan program in Baker County
- 2022 Hometown Heroes Income Limits - $118,950.00
- 2022 Hometown Heroes Loan Limits (FHA & USDA-RD) - $420,680.00
- 2022 Hometown Heroes Loan Limits (HFA Preferred, HFA Advantage and VA) - $647,200.00
Cash Back to Borrowers
No cash refunds will be offered at closing with this loan program; instead, any remaining funds will be used to pay down the first mortgage unless they are from gift funds.
Gift funds may be utilized for a down payment, closing fees, debt repayment, reserve building, or other agency-approved purposes. Because these funds are not from the borrower, any excess gift money can be refunded without designated "cash back." When applying for gift card refunds, one must fill out a specified form and adhere to the Florida Housing agency guidelines.
Is the second mortgage program for hometown heroes forgivable?
The second mortgage loan isn't forgivable and must be repaid in full when one refinances or pays off the first mortgage, rents out the property, sells it, or even transfers the deed.
Is it possible to have a co-signer?
Only the Fannie Mae and FHA first mortgage options will accept co-signer. But they won't be listed on the deed. Also, homebuyer education is not required for the co-signers.
Because these two programs include credit income for loan qualification, a co-signer's income will be included in the loan calculations.
However, the Co-Signer's income may eliminate a borrower from the low-cost mortgage insurance available to Fannie Mae borrowers with AMI below 80 %. Fannie Mae incorporates every income earned by co-signers into the AMI calculation.
What is the loan delivery timeline?
A 60-day loan delivery deadline applies to all hometown heroes' first and second mortgage loans. Any loans purchased beyond this deadline will be subject to repricing costs and late purchase penalties. These fees will be deducted from the lender's SRP at the purchase price.
Loans that will not have been delivered or acquired by the full delivery date may be canceled.
- Underwriter Certification period - 20 days
- Loan delivery timeframe - 60 days
The program's timeframe is decided by the time the loan is booked in the eHousing eHPortal system, not by the day the loan is confirmed in the origination system of the lender.
What if you're not a first-time buyer?
Suppose you are not purchasing your first home but are purchasing one in a federally designated location or are a qualified veteran. In that case, you may still be eligible for this type of loan.
Please remember that the Florida Hometown Heroes closing cost and down payment assistance program cannot be coupled with another FL Housing deposit aid program. However, it can be paired with down payment assistance from other institutions if they take a third lien position.
How do you apply for the program in Baker County?
If you are a frontline worker who qualifies for any FL Housing first mortgage options and meets the above income limits and purchase price requirements, connect with a loan specialist and start the application process for the hometown heroes mortgage down payment closing cost assistance.
Is the program available across all communities in Baker County, Florida?
Yes, the Florida hometown heroes loan program is available across all communities in Baker County. The program offers closing cost and down payment support to income-qualified first-time home buyers to help them purchase a primary home in the areas they serve. These include:
- Glen St. Mary
- Claudes MH Park
- Davis Park MH Park
- Lee and Baker MH Park 2
- Manns Spur
- Pine Top
Workers in Baker County, particularly those in frontline roles such as health institutions, schools, law enforcement, and emergency services, have been experiencing continuous housing market and rent price challenges. The new Hometown Heroes program will help these individuals purchase homes in the areas they serve.
The program was unveiled a few weeks ago by Governor Ron DeSantis and is open to application this June. The program is for first-time homebuyers who meet specific income requirements. It seeks to offer fixed-rate mortgages with historically low-interest rates and up to $25K in down payment aid. The programs and a variety of down payment support programs are administered by the Florida Housing and Finance Corporation and financed by the taxpayer as well.
You must deal with an approved loan officer, submit certification proving your occupation, have at least a 640 FICO score, and satisfy the income level for the county to be eligible for the program.
Choose Your County for More Hometown Heroes Information
- Alachua County
- Baker County
- Bay County
- Bradford County
- Brevard County
- Broward County
- Calhoun County
- Charlotte County
- Citrus County
- Clay County
- Collier County
- Columbia County
- DeSoto County
- Dixie County
- Duval County
- Escambia County
- Flagler County
- Franklin County
- Gadsden County
- Gilchrist County
- Glades County
- Gulf County
- Hamilton County
- Hardee County
- Hendry County
- Hernando County
- Highlands County
- Hillsborough County
- Holmes County
- Indian River County
- Jackson County
- Jefferson County
- Lafayette County
- Lake County
- Lee County
- Leon County
- Levy County
- Liberty County
- Madison County
- Manatee County
- Marion County
- Martin County
- Miami-Dade County
- Monroe County
- Nassau County
- Okaloosa County
- Okeechobee County
- Orange County
- Osceola County
- Palm Beach County
- Pasco County
- Pinellas County
- Polk County
- Putnam County
- Santa Rosa County
- Sarasota County
- Seminole County
- St. Johns County
- St. Lucie County
- Sumter County
- Suwannee County
- Taylor County
- Union County
- Volusia County
- Wakulla County
- Walton County
- Washington County